Tuesday, 10 December 2019

The Milky Way’s Neighbours

Updated: July 4, 2015 12:50 pm

Our quest for knowledge can enable us to attain incredible progress; we have the option to read and view images which helps to develop a higher level of comprehension. One can also be fortunate to learn a lot if intelligent and qualified people wish to share their knowledge on a particular topic. Dr. John P. Holdren is blessed with this quality. He is Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the White House. Dr. Holdren is the Chief Science Advisor to the President of the USA. He often circulates interesting notes and images to staff at the White House. The interest amongst them increased. One of them advised Dr. Holdren to circulate his notes more widely. He liked the idea. ‘Why not?’ he asked. This was how he circulated a very recent Hubble photograph.

04-07-2015The picture displays an astonishing density of stars. His first reaction when he saw so many stars was: “I wonder whether there is anybody else out there?” This is just one piece of our own galaxy. He explains there is an estimated 100 billion other galaxies in the observable universe. This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image presents the Arches Cluster which is the densest known star cluster in the Milky Way. It is located about 25,000 light years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius( The Archer) close to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between the sun and its nearest star there would be 100,000 stars ! At least 150 stars within the cluster are among the brightest ever discovered in the Milky Way. These stars are so bright and massive that they will burn their fuel within a short time. On a cosmological scale that means just a few million years. Then they will die in spectacular supernova explosions. Due to the short lifetime of the stars in the cluster the gas between the stars is an unusually high amount of heavier elements, which is produced by earlier generations of stars.

President Obama said: “This was a fun briefing: My science advisor just showed me this Hubble shot of the most crowded place in our galaxy.”

Each star has its own size, shape and brightness. With an unimaginable number of them up there in the firmament, studying them individually, would be inconceivable as an empirical activity. Dr. Holdren with his perceptive skills has brilliantly embarked on this challenging venture; he has highlighted a small cluster of stars, thus, elucidating mankind’s intelligence and determination.

By Deepak Rikhye

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